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Social Documentary Network
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I was mesmerized by the technicolor beauty of what I saw in the light — and terrified of what might be lurking in the dark.
Every inch of the jungle teemed with activity. Tiny worlds were contained on the trunk of a single tree.
My mind was swarming with thoughts regarding the fragility of life, the eventuality of death and what the continued destruction of the Amazon could mean for our planet.
In the jungle, one can only hold a thought for so long until a loud noise pierces through the tropical air, scattering the mind and flushing the body with adrenaline.
The first few times I ventured the trails around the Villa Carmen Biological Station, I was convinced that every crash in the forest was some ravenous, rabid creature.
In many ways, living in the Amazon was a daily practice in overcoming fear.
While the rainforest as a whole felt chaotic, there was a brilliant order and structure to each of its individual parts.
From the rich baritone of frogs to the high-pitched frequencies of birds, a chorus of animal communication rang through the forest constantly.
Even the jungle’s more quiet inhabitants — its moss, mushrooms and lichen — appeared to be in a lively conversation with their surroundings.
Originally, I came to the Amazon to accompany my partner, Will Helenbrook, who is a resident lecturer specializing in primates and parasites. Little did I know I would be completely romanced by the jungle.
Everywhere I looked, the soil held traces of creatures who have lived there for ages. I was but a passing moment in its long, storied past.
Through my lens, I tried to distill the overwhelming sprawl of the jungle into something I could understand.
The poised composition of my camera contrasted with the wild decomposition of the forest floor.
More and more, I realized I was crafting a love poem to the Amazon.
There are many stories about the tragedies befalling the forest, detailing its gold miners, illegal loggers and land-hungry farmers — but that is not the story I wanted to tell.
Information about deforestation is vital and needs to be shared, yet I believe that viewers first need to connect with the Amazon on an emotional level.
How can one fully understand this enormous loss if its plants and animals are just a vague concept?
I needed to share this spectacular place, capture some of its brimming energy so that others could realize what is at stake here.
One cannot hope to document all 2,700,000 square miles of the Amazon in a single shot; the rainforest reveals itself through its small, luminous microcosms.
Exploring this splendid and endangered expanse of wilderness, I was overcome by a raw, almost primal connection to the land.
Regardless of its potential dangers — hunters of both animal and human variety — I’ve come to realize how lucky anyone is to experience its nature.
Wildlife remains allusive for a reason; its survival depends upon it.
I’m still holding out for my first big cat sighting. Some say you have to be ready to see a jaguar before you are graced by its presence.
Yet no matter how much preparation one takes, the boundless energy of the Amazon always finds a way to surprise and inspire.
Many people know the challenges the rainforest must face, but not everyone has had a chance to meet the creatures that call it home. In highlighting the myriad of lives that depend upon this place, I hope to prolong its tangled history.


Personal Perspective


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